Under the Surface it Still Kinda Stinks


WSJ’s Joanna Stern had high hopes, but found the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t live up to Redmond’s hype:

In fact, at its news conference, the head of the Surface team directly said that this device would meet my expectations of the laptop of the future. Sometimes real life can be stranger than dreams.

Yes, Microsoft is confident that—with a larger, higher-resolution 12-inch HD screen, new keyboard, improved kickstand and $799 starting price—its new Surface Pro 3 tablet can replace not my iPad, but my beloved 13-inch MacBook Air.

So I tested that claim. For the last week, my laptop has lived under my bed as I’ve spent my waking life with the Pro 3. On its third attempt, Microsoft has leapt forward in bringing the tablet and laptop together—and bringing the laptop into the future. But the Pro 3 also suffers from the Surface curse: You still make considerable compromises for getting everything in one package.


But I had been assured the Surface was all about “no compromises.” Of course, trying to put everything into one box — no matter how slim and nice to touch — makes for some terrible compromises. The worst might be the keyboard:

You won’t find a better keyboard for a tablet, but you’ll find much better keyboards, even in the budget laptop aisle.

The trackpad has been enlarged, but not enough—it still feels claustrophobic. Two-finger scrolling doesn’t consistently work, either, and because the pad is so close to the keyboard, the cursor can easily jump when you’re typing. It’s so frustrating, you’ll want a mouse instead.

A tablet is about holding and touching, but the Surface is too heavy to hold comfortably for very long. A laptop is about the touchpad and the keyboard, which should be good enough to be worth the extra weight and thickness a laptop carries.

So by going for “no compromises,” Redmond compromised away the best thing about a tablet and the best thing about a laptop.

And now that there’s an excellent Office app for iPad, why the hell would anyone bother with Microsoft’s ill-conceived hardware?




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